Chocolate story

For centuries, chocolate has been an exclusively drink. They used it cold - bitter-tasted roasted cocoa beans were mixed with water, and then chili peppers were added to this mixture.

The discovery of chocolate is attributed to the Olmec civilization, which also gave the modern name to the cocoa tree. One of the few references that have reached us makes it possible to assume that it was in their language that the word kakawa first appeared, almost completely preserving its original sound until our days.

The history of the development of chocolate continued the Mayan tribe. During this period, paganism became the reason that chocolate became a very valuable drink; many religious rituals and traditions were associated with it. The value of chocolate was great, because it was equated with the food of the gods.

In the days of the Mayan Indians, cocoa trees were deliberately not grown. There were many of them, but not enough for everyone to drink plenty of the divine drink. As a result, the Indians began to use cocoa beans as a means of payment. When the calculations were carried out in considerable amounts, the fruits were considered not individually, but as pods, each of which weighs about 500 g.

Curiosities also happened: the ancient "counterfeiters" took cocoa beans out of the pods and filled them with something less valuable. Later, the high value of the cocoa fruit prompted the Mayan Indians to erect cocoa plantations - as you know, there should be a lot of good.

By the 9th century, the Mayan culture gradually fell into decline, and already in the 12th century a powerful Aztec empire was formed on the territory of modern Mexico. By this time, the value of the cocoa fruit had slightly decreased, and cocoa beans began to be used as a tribute. The Aztecs used special units of measure for grains of cocoa trees. It is known that in one bag contained about 24 thousand beans, which amounted to 3 xipuipilis. It is not difficult to imagine how much the rulers of the empire consumed the sacred drink, if you know that 4 of the cocoa beans were delivered to the palace of one of them daily.

However, chocolatl, as the Aztecs called it (from choco - “foam” and latl - “water”) was still considered a drink of aristocrats. Only the elite, representatives of the upper classes - leaders and tribal leaders drank chocolatl from golden bowls decorated with precious stones. The great lover of the drink was the famous Aztec emperor Montezuma: they say that he drank up to 50 cups per day, and his regularly replenished warehouse included about 40,000 bags.

Like Maya, the Aztecs considered the cocoa drink to be divine and composed many beautiful legends about it. One of them says that the wizard Quetzalcoatl once lived among these people, who planted a garden of cocoa trees. From the fruits of these wonderful trees, people began to prepare a drink that gave wisdom and strength. Looking at the result of his labors, Quetzalcoatl became proud, and in punishment for this, the vengeful gods deprived him of reason. In a fit of insanity, the wizard destroyed his garden; only one tree accidentally survived, and since then it gives people joy.

The Indians themselves firmly believed in this tradition, and it was for the returning Quetzalcoatl that they took the Spanish conqueror Hernan Cortes, who in November 1519 visited the ancient capital of Mexico Tenochtitlan. However, the conquistador clearly did not live up to their hopes: as you know, he arrived with slightly different intentions - to conquer Mexico. To begin with, the Spaniards ransacked the Montezuma palace and, to their surprise, discovered large stocks of dried beans of unknown origin and destination in its pantries.

The recipe for making a drink from cocoa beans has not undergone any significant changes since the Olmecs and Mayans. The bitter taste of this strange dark liquid did not delight the conquistadors, but nevertheless they paid tribute to its specific aroma and appreciated the tonic effect. Moreover, for the Emperor Montezuma himself, chocolatl was prepared differently: fried cocoa beans were ground together with dairy corn grains, and then honey, vanilla and agave sweet juice were added. This drink is much more to the taste of the Spaniards.

Some scholars believe that Europeans became acquainted with chocolate a few years before Cortez.

In 1502, Christopher Columbus landed for the fourth time off the coast of America, and the indigenous people treated him to a precious cocoa drink. However, Columbus did not like his taste, and the sailor safely forgot about it.
Obviously, the practical Cortes instantly realized what a huge profit an unexpected discovery could bring him. Returning to Spain, the conquistador went to the king, to whom rumors had already reached of the atrocities committed by Cortes. In the hope of appeasing the monarch, the seafarer brought him a gift of cocoa beans and a recipe for making a drink. The result was not long in coming: the royal couple tasted the chocolatl (renamed chocolat), and soon it became a fashionable drink of the Spanish aristocrats. Those who could afford it (and there were few of them) drank it at any time of the day: hot for breakfast and cold for dessert. I must say that the Spaniards slightly changed the recipe for chocolate: now they began to add cane sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, which significantly improved the taste of the drink.

However, in the Old World cocoa beans were no less (if not more) rarity and luxury than in the New. They were very expensive, and it was no coincidence that the Spanish historian Oviedo wrote in the 16th century: “Only the rich and noble could afford to drink chocolate, since he literally drank money. Cocoa beans were used as currency by all nations ... For 100 of these cocoa seeds, it was quite possible to buy a good slave. ”

In the 17th century, people attributed miraculous properties to chocolate and even used it as a medicine. At that time, the well-known healer Christopher Ludwig Hoffman strongly recommended it as a remedy for many diseases, confirming this with a successful example of the treatment of Cardinal Richelieu.

Since the beginning of the XVII century, in various parts of Europe, people in various ways have discovered the secret of a wonderful drink. So, thanks to the traveler Francesco Kareti, who undertook an expedition to America, Italians learned about cocoa beans, who subsequently were the first to invent a license for the production of chocolate. Around the same time, there was evidence of active smuggling of this product in the Netherlands, and the German emperor Charles V even demanded a monopoly on cocoa.

But still the main contribution to the distribution of chocolate in Europe was made by the daughter of the Spanish King Philip III, Anna of Austria. As the wife of Louis XIII, in 1616 she first brought to Paris a box of cocoa beans. And having gained fame at the French royal court, chocolate very quickly conquered all of Europe.

A delicious aromatic drink (and at that time it was consumed exclusively in liquid form) found many passionate fans and became more popular than tea and coffee. However, it still remained extremely expensive, and only representatives of the upper classes could still afford this rare pleasure.

Nevertheless, over time, this product became more affordable: the number of cocoa plantations increased and the industrial production of chocolate gradually developed. In 1659, a Frenchman named David Chayu opened the world's first chocolate factory. True, the process of making chocolate on it had almost nothing in common with the modern one: the grains were cleaned, of course, manually, and then fried, ground, laid out on a stone table and rolled out with a metal roller. And in 1674, cocoa began to be added to confectionery - cakes and rolls; that is how “edible” chocolate first appeared, although, of course, he was still far from traditional tiles.

Chocolate has taken a strong place in the life of Europeans. Legends were made about him (according to one of them, the first cocoa tree did not grow somewhere, namely in the Garden of Eden), it was declared a panacea for all diseases (colds, fevers, consumption, etc.), it was believed that the divine drink causes sexual arousal and promotes longevity.

Chocolate was also used for unkind purposes: the cocoa drink had a bitter taste and strong aroma that could kill the taste of poison, and poisoning, as you know, was the most popular method of political murder in those days.

The higher clergy also did not remain indifferent to the exotic drink. Most of the representatives of the Catholic Church were worried about the question of whether it is possible to eat chocolate during fasting or whether it should be considered a sin. The chocolate trade was almost entirely under the control of the Jesuits, so it is not surprising that they recognized its use as completely acceptable. Nevertheless, other orders of this opinion did not share. The fact is that in that era the Catholic Church opposed everything that could bring sensual pleasure, at least during fasting any pleasure was strictly prohibited. The whole problem was to determine whether chocolate could bring such pleasure.

The top clergymen of Mexico puzzled for a long time over this difficult issue, and as a result of long discussions gathered at the “chocolate” congress, where it was finally made the best decision. The bishops came to the conclusion that only the pope himself can deal with this, infallible in his holiness, and therefore simply unable to make a mistake. The delegate elected by the congress, the father of Girolamo de San Vincenzo, went to the Vatican to Pius V in the hope that His Holiness will help to resolve the painful dispute.

However, the pope himself was slightly at a loss - he never drank in his life chocolate had no idea how to relate to it. But Father Girolamo foresaw everything, just in case, taking with him a bag of cocoa beans. Having tasted this strange, dark, bitter drink, Pius V spoke as follows: “Chocolate does not break fasting. Such muck cannot bring pleasure to someone! ” Since cocoa was officially allowed for use by His Holiness Pope himself.

All this could not but contribute to an even greater recognition of chocolate all over the world, especially since gradually, thanks to the expansion of plantations and the development of industry, it became more accessible .

Strong and bitter chocolate has long been considered an exclusively male drink. But later, people learned to add milk to it (the British did it first in 1700), which gave chocolate the necessary lightness.

In the middle of the 18th century, the first chocolate shops opened in France, where everyone could enjoy their favorite drink. By 1798, there were already about 500 such establishments in Paris. And in England, the famous Chocolate Houses became so popular that they even overshadowed tea and coffee shops.

Until the beginning of the 19th century, chocolate was consumed only as a drink. For a long time people could not get pure cocoa butter, which made the chocolate bar keep its shape, but in the end they succeeded. This merit belongs to the Swiss Francois Louis Cayeux, who in 1819 created the world's first bar of hard chocolate. A year after this event, a chocolate factory for its production was built near Vivi.

Soon, such chocolate enterprises began to open throughout Europe (for example, Fry and Sons became widely known in England) . Year after year, experts improved manufacturing techniques and changed the recipe for hard chocolate. Nuts, candied fruits, various sweets, wine and even beer began to be added to it.

Another turning point in the history of chocolate came in 1875, when Swiss Peter Daniel invented a fundamentally new kind of milk. The component necessary for its manufacture, milk powder, was supplied to Peter by another well-known Swiss entrepreneur, Henri Nestle. The latter, obviously, having appreciated all the advantages of the confectionery industry, at the beginning of the 20th century began to produce hard chocolate under his brand, made according to the recipe of Peter and Kohler. And by 1929, Nestle, having teamed up with Peter, Kohler and Kaye, became the largest producer of the famous Swiss chocolate.

On May 1, 1931 the first production building of the Kommunarka mechanized factory was opened, one of the oldest confectionery in the former Soviet Union.